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Robert Downey Jr. Gave An Emotional Speech At The Avengers: Infinity War Premiere

Avengers: Infinity War is more than just another Marvel film. For fans, it's an affecting roller coaster ride of epic emotions and sparkling cinematics, and for actors, it's the coming-together of a decade of Marvel movie magic. Nothing encapsulates that feeling quite like the speech Robert Downey Jr. gave ahead of the film's worldwide debut Monday night. 

Downey Jr., who helped kick off the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008's Iron Man, took the stage and told the Avengers: Infinity War premiere attendees, "I gotta few words. Hope you all brought a bag lunch" (via Entertainment Weekly).

The actor began by tributing Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, for crafting 19 separate movies thus far and interlocking them seamlessly. "This is a miracle. And if any one of us took credit it would be heresy. It would be blasphemy," Downey said, before doing a curtsy and joking that he deserves recognition for all the success Marvel has experienced. "Screw it, you're welcome!" he laughed.

Downey Jr. then took a turn into more personal territory, discussing his past struggles with addiction and opening up about the opportunity and new lease on life his Iron Man role granted him. "I want to talk about the past, present, and future. The past for me was 30 years of dependency, depravity, and despair," he stated. "The present is this moment of glory for all of us. And the future? That is always uncertain. But looking at these friends behind me, it seems like things might brighten up after all."

He continued, "None of us are in competition with each other. We are all competing for each other — and for you. If you play a superhero in one of these movies, and it works, you become a big star! And it is meaningless unless you use that to achieve something higher. You have to take direction from peers, and your family, and occasionally even an actual director ... You either come out steel or dust."

The actor then spoke about Anna Bowden and Ryan Fleck, the directors behind the Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel, and discussed the importance of female filmmakers. "Now at least half a directing team is female," said Downey Jr. "Making these movies is so taxing that it is clearly a woman's job. It's essentially gestation. But we [men] don't know how to do that."

Downey Jr. wrapped his speech on a note that was, like the actor himself, both sentimental and tongue-in-cheek. "This is the MCU, right in front of you. It's all about fighting for equality. The whole idea is to make space for others to succeed, and exceed our expectations. [The movies] are inviting us to surrender and love and be of service. They are metaphors for how our world should be — or could be one day, if we fight for it."

He then called Gwyneth Paltrow, his co-star in Iron Man who steps back into her role as Pepper Potts in Avengers: Infinity War, the "very first First Lady of Marvel," and praised his Iron Man director Jon Favreau as "the man who started it all."

"I was up late and wrote this," Downey Jr. ended his speech, smiling sweetly. "I think this might be the greatest speech ever written! Or maybe I'm just emo and exhausted."